A One-Day Whirlwind Trip

A One-Day Whirlwind Trip (2)

Graduation season is behind us.

Thank God!

No, no, I didn’t mean that. Of course I didn’t. Well, only kinda, maybe.

I don’t know about you, but I received many invitations to graduations this spring/summer. Almost all were fairly close in proximity. Easy to get to.

Gifts were delivered but my butt didn’t reach those seats. I’d pretty much rather have my fingertips cut off than soldier through a graduation ceremony (I mean, wouldn’t you?).

But one just required my presence. And of course, it was a state away.

And also, as these things happen, my pet-sitter sister could do the mid-day puppy run, but couldn’t spend the night.

Where there’s a will there’s a way, as my mom liked to say.

Right.

But my nephew Jude was graduating high school in Albuquerque, at 9:30 AM, and by hook or by crook, I was gonna be there.

Up at 2 AM I was, driving by 4 to DFW airport (the one furthest away, as the closer airport couldn’t get me there in time) to get through security, board the plane, get to Albuquerque by 8 so the car could get me to the school by 9.

Security, well, you know how it’s pretty tight these days on account of all the terroristic activity? Business folks surely face this all the time, with one-day turnarounds for meetings, etc. And surely they get the once-over as well. But never having done such a thing, I was fairly surprised at how seriously they took me.

Extra attention. Pat downs both ways. And geez—there I was in my cute long and flowing gauzy white skirt and wispy draping blouse, looking like a fairy queen out of a storybook. Okay, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but I can’t imagine I looked much like a terrorista. Especially with those strappy little dreamsickle sandals that matched.

On that note, have you ever flown twice in one day? Amazing what it does for swelling feet. Those cute little strappy sandals would look like pieces of strained pipe cleaners dug into puffy flesh by 9 that night.

And timing was pretty crucial. One little glitch and the ceremony would go on without me. The nerve!

But all worked like the proverbial clock. As my chatty driver dropped me at the school, up came a nice man in a golf cart, offering a ride across campus to the site of the ceremony. New Mexico folks are just so accommodating!

Bosque is a small school, the class of ’17 being 64 in number. The faculty stay very involved with the students. The Headmaster, Billy, knows them all well. I’ve met many of them over the years, and am always so impressed with their commitment. I know Billy, and consider his wife, Betul, a friend and kindred spirit.

Fine folks. Gifted kids. A beautiful New Mexico spring morning. All the ingredients in place for a pretty ceremony.

Still, I was unprepared.

How many graduations have you sat through, praying fervently that they would just end or you’d go to your blessed reward, whichever came first?

I must confess, my expectations languished in the low brackish swamps . . .

But under an expansive grove of sprawling cottonwood trees, a soft breeze billowing wisps of white puffs through the delightfully dry air, I found Suzanne first thing. Ah, do I love my chosen sister! Her smile always makes my heart sing.

With hugs and laughter and joy and jokes, a large group of us took our seats as music began.

Twice the songs were performed by the choir, and ah, the voices of those kids. Their notes as pure and nuanced as the glistening sunlight dappling through the trees.

Then it went into funny. Lots of anecdotes about antics by the kids, told by teachers to many blushes and much tittering laughter. Then skits including faculty and students, as we were given a window into their daily world.

The Headmaster gave a personal talk, including his departing students in the vignettes.

It felt more like being at a Broadway play than a high school graduation.

The highlight, at least for me, was Jude’s dad, Dan, giving the commencement. I’ve talked about Dan before, having attended his consecration ceremony last summer. I’ve known him for decades, and of course, he’ll always be Dan to me, even though his title now is The Rt. Rev. Daniel G. P. Gutiérrez, XVI Bishop of The Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania.

Yep, that Dan. The Bishop.

I’ve heard him teach (I can’t bring myself to say preach, as that never feels like what he’s doing) many times.

Gifted, he is.

His words to those kids, they hopefully internalized, to pull out in the dark times. His sentiments that day, I think of often. And hope the graduates do too.

They are mighty words for our time:

“Write you story so that when you walk into the room will people feel expectation instead of apprehension. When you leave it they are inspired rather than relieved. Remember, it is your story. Voice your beliefs with clarity and authenticity while at the same time seek the good with those you disagree. Humanize and not demonize. We are in this together. If a person is being abused, neglected, marginalized or hurt by anything or anyone, stand with them. Act with love, and kindness. Then go to the pain and margins and pull everyone in. You will raise our collective humanity to a higher and deeper place. It is said that only the soul that ventilates the world with tenderness, kindness and love has the only chance of changing it. As for survival of the fittest, winner take all, revenge or retribution, I have spent far too many nights holding the hands of those taking their final breaths. They do not mean a damn thing. Only that every life truly has meaning and only, only love . . . Class of 2017, my love for you is great. This is your story. You know what you gotta do. Go. Succeed, do great things, make great discoveries. Create with passion and live all your dreams. While you are at it. Laugh. Be kind, tender and compassionate. Look for good in everything and everyone . . . May your story give hope, may you make one life breathe easier. May you make the world better because of you and in the process you will change the world. I bless you as you go forth to write your story. Go and make it a better place.”

Isn’t it funny how when you make an effort to do something you feel compelled to do, no matter the time and trouble to do so, that you’re the one who is blessed.

Those kids will change our world for the good. May Dan’s words ring in their hearts forever, as they will in mine. As they might in yours.

About the Author Susan Malone

Award-winning writer and editor Susan Mary Malone is the author of the novels, "I Just Came Here to Dance" and "By the Book," as well as four co-authored nonfiction books, including "What’s Wrong with My Family?" and many published short stories. Forty-plus Malone-edited books have now sold to traditional publishers.

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54 comments
robin rue says June 21, 2017

Glad you were able to fly out to see his graduation! Here in New England, one state away is a short drive for the most part. I have flown twice in one day, though, and it’s not fun.

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    Susan Malone says June 21, 2017

    I have to laugh, Robin–it’s so much easier for you New Englanders to cross state lines! It takes an entire day just to drive across Texas.

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Meghan says June 21, 2017

I remember Dan! 😉 Isn’t it wonderful when something–like a graduation or even mass on a Sunday!– exceeds our expectations? I love being pleasantly surprised and delighted. I imagine it may be tough to compose an uplifting, inspiring presentation to youth these days, but Dan made it happen. His advice is solid and never expires.

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    Susan Malone says June 21, 2017

    Oh, it’s such a wonderful experience when something exceeds our expectations, Meghan! And this did in all ways. Isn’t Dan just inspiring!

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Neely Moldovan says June 21, 2017

So nice that you got to go. Important family moments liek that are such treasures. Im sure he was so happy!

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    Susan Malone says June 21, 2017

    I’m so glad I got to go too, Neely! It ended up being such a gift to me!

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Scott says June 21, 2017

I guess I didn’t realize they had large ceremonies for that! Makes sense, it is quite an accomplishment!

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    Susan Malone says June 21, 2017

    High school graduations have ceremonies, but this one was so inspiring!

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Kathy @ SMART Living 365.com says June 21, 2017

Hahaha…Hi Susan. I’m just like you…I DREAD graduation ceremonies and avoid them like the plague. I didn’t even like my own so many years ago. But yours sounded great and how sweet it is when a plan not only flows like yours did…but that it is filled with rich rewards. Thanks for sharing it with us. ~Kathy

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    Susan Malone says June 21, 2017

    Aren’t they usually just awful, Kathy! This one was so wonderful. I’m still in awe!

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Jennifer Quisenberry @ The Awesome Muse says June 21, 2017

I’m so glad you got to attend, despite the swollen feet. It’s so wonderful to be able to share a special day, particularly with such a great “teacher” sharing a message.

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Lori English says June 21, 2017

Susan,
Great post and inspired a lot especially the end where its your story. I like to see that graduation, and Remembering the awe feeling of I am so grateful for what I just did, and the life ahead of me. Education teaches a lot of varied studies we wouldn’t have learned, but I truly am grateful for the lessons I am applying and the differ ways of critical thinking.

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    Susan Malone says June 21, 2017

    Isn’t it wonderful when we apply the lessons learned, Lori. Sometimes I actually do! Lol.

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Cathy Sykora says June 21, 2017

Our family is global. Baptisms and First Communions are on Facetime…it’s not easy to cross oceans for these events and that takes a huge family and diminishes the value of the large and loving family. We just have to work at ways around it to make it special in a different way. Our graduation is going to be in Oxford – that might be a trip worth making 🙂 We get together for birthdays and anniversaries and if we can all get to one place – which we do for 80th there are 40 of us….weddings we’re close. Everyone should go to family functions if you can possibly get there. Thanks for sharing, it was a nice message.

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    Susan Malone says June 21, 2017

    Ohhh, Cathy–I’d HAVE to go to Oxford for that graduation! What fun that would be!

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Tamuria says June 21, 2017

I love Dan’s beautiful and wise words, Susan. How wonderful you were able to make it to the graduation on time and gain so much from it.

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    Susan Malone says June 22, 2017

    Oh, I love Dan’s words too, Tami. What a perfect way to send these kids off into the world!

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Hey Sharonoox says June 21, 2017

Congrats to your nephew on his graduation! It sounds like a memorable and yet inspiring ceremony.

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Heather Johnson says June 21, 2017

I luckily have been only to a few graduations. I even missed my final grad school graduation because my first-born decided to arrive four weeks early.

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Alicia says June 21, 2017

So glad you were able to get to his graduation. Congrats to your son!

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Vatsala Shukla says June 22, 2017

I’m so glad you were able to make it in time for your nephew’s graduation. It is an important occasion and for some reason, no matter the culture we come from, Aunts are supposed to be there!

It was my nephew’s 9th grade graduation in Copenhagen yesterday and while that is a smaller rite of passage, I can see myself flying down for his college graduation in the years to come. Some moments are precious as our younger relatives begin their journey.

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    Susan Malone says June 22, 2017

    Aren’t Aunties just the best, Vatsala 🙂 And I see you flying down for your nephew’s college graduation too!

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Jodi Sky says June 22, 2017

Wow! Sounds like quite an experience. Congratulations to your nephew ❤

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Natasha Botkin says June 22, 2017

Thanks for sharing your lovely jounery and tid bits. Xoxo

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Joan M Harrington says June 22, 2017

Hi Susan 🙂

Really enjoyed your post (as I know it has been awhile since I have commented) Been “out of the loop” of blogging for awhile and now just getting back to it.

I recently just came back from a graduation as well…went to my niece’s high school graduation on June 10th in North Carolina. My trip started off with a road trip with my kids (who I have not gone on a road trip with them since they were little…now 26 and 22) I have to admit it was so much fun to reconnect with them on this 12+ hour journey!!! Having help driving was definitely a plus!

Graduations are nice to attend, and if you can come away with something from it, it is always a good thing 🙂

Thanks for sharing! Great post!

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    Susan Malone says June 22, 2017

    Oh, I bet you have some stories from a 12-hour roadtrip with your grown kids, Joan! And SO happy to see you back!

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Beverley Golden says June 22, 2017

New Mexico is one state I really want to travel to, so it sounds like for you, it was worth the energy and effort to make it to the graduation ceremony. I can’t remember being at any high school graduation other than for my daughter, Lani. Maybe it isn’t as big an occasion here in Canada? I love your takeaway, Susan. That you are the one who felt blessed for taking the time and effort. Lovely words by Dan and like you, I hope his words stay with them as they move forward into their future.

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    Susan Malone says June 22, 2017

    Ah, how blessed I am, Beverley.
    And I have an idea–let’s meet up some time in Taos. Now, you want to talk about amazing energy!

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Carrie@thelavenderhytta says June 22, 2017

I remember the season of having so many graduations to attend. It is so important to be there for family during special times. I am so glad you were able to make it.

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Reba Linker says June 22, 2017

This is so beautiful, Susan. Thanks for taking us along with you, puffy feet and all. And your comment says it so beautifully: ”
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Tami says June 22, 2017

Graduations are difficult to endure some days. I just watched two of mine graduate back to back.

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    Susan Malone says June 23, 2017

    My hat is off to you, Tami! Back-to-back graduations. I’d lose my mind. Lol.

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Marielle Altenor says June 23, 2017

I’ve only been to one graduation ceremony (mine), and I remember wishing it would end already lol So I can totally relate why you would want to miss them. Glad you did go to your nephews though.

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Vironika Tugaleva says June 23, 2017

That is an incredible quote. I especially love this part: “Voice your beliefs with clarity and authenticity while at the same time seek the good with those you disagree. Humanize and not demonize. We are in this together.”

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    Susan Malone says June 23, 2017

    Isn’t that just wonderful, Vironika! What a blessing to those kids, and to us all.

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Sue Kearney says June 23, 2017

That’s a lovely story. And ouch on those sandals by the time you got on the 2nd flight.

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Candess M Campbell says June 24, 2017

Susan, I am so happy to hear you showed up for your nephew’s graduation. That is a big accomplishment and I am sure he appreciated your being there. TSA – ugh! The commencement speech was empowering and inspiring. Thanks for sharing.

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    Susan Malone says June 26, 2017

    I’m so glad I went, Candess! Loved the entire thing, and Dan’s words were the icing on the cake.

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Tandy Elisala says June 25, 2017

So glad you were able to fly out for his graduation. Whenever I’ve flown twice in a day (or within a 24 hour period), I always need more rest when I get home… and you are right on about the swollen feet. Graduations are special and as difficult as they are to sit through, I’m sure you were glad you went! Dan is so inspiring! I love his message.

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    Susan Malone says June 26, 2017

    It was oh-so worth it, Tandy, swollen feet and all! Lol. And I agree–Dan is so inspiring!

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Kristen Wilson says June 26, 2017

Wow.. what a trip.. and YES I can totally relate. My youngest graduated.. and thank freaken gawd AND now onto wedding and college planning for her to get out.. so I’m READY for my new normal…. married and no kids at home. (love them dearly, but I’m in for a break!)

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    Susan Malone says June 27, 2017

    That is so cool, Kristen! The kids raised successfully. Now, time for you!

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Lorii Abela says June 28, 2017

I love out of town celebrations. Your nephew is lucky to have you there to cheer on for him in this recent milestone in his life. Your moral support impacted his core for sure. Congratulations to Jude!

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    Susan Malone says June 28, 2017

    He’s such a good kid, Lorii! I suppose I’m going to have to quit saying kid one of these days 🙂

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